By Colm Toibin
(Scribner Book Company, Hardcover, 9781439138311, 262pp.)
Publication Date: May 5, 2009
List Price: $25.00*
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From the award-winning author of The Master, a hauntingly compelling novel—by far Tóibín’s most accessible book—set in Brooklyn and Ireland in the early 1950s about a young woman torn between her family in Ireland and the american who wins her heart.
Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the years following World War Two. Though skilled at bookkeeping, Eilis cannot find a proper job in the miserable Irish economy.
When an Irish priest from Brooklyn visits the household and offers to sponsor Eilis in America—to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood "just like Ireland"—she realizes she must go, leaving her fragile mother and sister behind.
Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and studies accounting at Brooklyn College, and, when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, a blond Italian, slowly wins her over with persistent charm. He takes Eilis to Coney Island and Ebbets Field, and home to dinner in the two-room apartment he shares with his brothers and parents. Eilis is in love. But just as she begins to consider what this means, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her new life.
With the emotional resonance of Alice McDermott’s At Weddings and Wakes, Brooklyn is by far Tóibín’s most inviting, engaging novel.
Many of the picks from Fresh Air's book critic look back at tough times from earlier eras, or lives upended by disaster. The best books of the year include a work of nonfiction that reveals the hidden fantasy land of a founder of American industry, and a novel that doesn't apologize for the bad behavior of its characters. Plus, a bonus mystery pick. More at NPR.org
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